It’s the story of a friendship between Paula, a 30 year-old single Christian, and Ann, who she met through church.
Ann had been brought up in foster care and hadn’t had an easy life. Paula realised she needed a good friend and took her under her wing. They met for coffees and started to get to know one another.
A month after they first met, Ann had a stroke. It was her 29th birthday. Paralysed down one side and unable to speak, she spent the next year in hospital. In that year, Paula, (her friend of one month), visited her three times a day to feed her, read to her, pray with her and do her washing. Finally the day came when Ann was well enough to move into a specially adapted and self-contained flat. But she found the transition very difficult and over the course of the next month Paula realised that she was becoming increasingly frightened and unhappy.
Paula prayed about it. And decided to move Ann in with her. When her second floor maisonette proved unsuitable for Ann’s wheelchair, she sold her home and bought a house with a downstairs bathroom. She also gave up her job to be Ann’s official carer.
Three years later, Paula met and married Al, a church youth worker. Ann was afraid that she would have to move out and lose everything. But again, they prayed and told Ann that their home would always be hers too.
Paula was now 34. She and Al wanted to have children, but it didn’t happen. They decided to adopt three siblings, aged six, three and one. Paula cared for the children, but both she and Ann struggled with so many demands. She cried out to God ‘I don’t know if I can keep doing this: is life better with Ann here or without her?’ And she realised that life with Ann was harder – but also better.
Paula is now 51. She and Al have six adopted children – as well as hens, ducks, geese and chickens. She says:
‘The children adore Ann and she’s amazing with them. I don’t think I could have adopted six children without her.’
As for Ann, she says this:
‘Following my stroke, my life changed forever. In an instant I became severely disabled and confined to a wheelchair. I was scared, depressed and completely overwhelmed. But Paula was there for me every step of the way. Words cannot express how grateful I am to her’.